Come together: harmonizing data is still a critical task

It’s vital to bring data together to gain a comprehensive view, in one place, and be able to analyze and share it across the business.

Harmonizing data is a persistent, though sometimes understated theme that continues to come up in market research circles. In fact, even those outside the industry are using the term, which is the genesis of the name for our market research platform, Harmoni. In GRIT reports, we're constantly seeing “synthesizing data from multiple sources” on the list of critical priorities for market research and insights teams. 

Whether you call it harmonizing, synthesizing, centralizing, or merging, it's the same general idea: we need better ways to look at the big picture. And this means we need all the data together in one place, so we aren’t operating in silos. In a complex marketplace with complicated consumers, most companies and brands find it vital to use multiple data sources, rather than any single study, to create and nurture understanding. 

There are many different reasons and situations where synthesizing data is important. For example, we recently worked with the Shell Insights Team to bring together global data that included primary research, business-intelligence and third-party data sources. This approach replaced siloed, static research with fully-integrated, engaging, and easily accessible insights to drive marketing actions. Priorities can shift depending on the scope and size of the organization or project, but obtaining a holistic view by bringing disparate sources together is key to long-term success. 

Multiple projects at a large organization. 

Global companies often have different research projects underway for multiple company channels, brands, or sectors. Because projects are commissioned by different departments in the same organization, disconnects can easily occur. Some tools can handle one data input at a time, giving researchers only a partial glimpse into what’s happening on a large scale.

It’s vital to bring that data together in one place to gain a comprehensive view to analyze and share it across the business. The right technology can make it easy to look at all the harmonized data, compare combined projects over time, and build a truer representation of audiences, market performance, and other key data points. There is no need for stakeholders to look at siloed views of important business data.

Multiple data streams for consumer insights.

This is a no brainer. We’ve written about this topic before, including an article nearly two years ago by Christina Costa-Connolly, our Regional Director for Europe, for Quirks. In the piece, she writes about the need to bring together consumer touchpoint data - such as advertising reactions, social media activity, or seeking online product reviews - with business metrics. Then you also have to add in traditional research, like surveys and focus group data. This is a lot of data coming in from all angles, with each piece being crucial in gaining that holistic view everyone seeks. 

Christina writes, “With the right forward-thinking leaders and technology at our fingertips, we can go beyond just putting all this data together and actually find those relationships and patterns that can make a real impact on business decisions and, ultimately, success.” When you are basing important actions on the results of market research projects, you need the data synthesized quickly and accurately. The right solution can get you there. 

Using multiple data sources to garner comprehensive insights is truly the way forward. Our job is to uncover and understand the nuances in consumer behaviors and emotions and how they will affect outcomes. For this, we need all the data. For Shell, we built an intuitive insights-exploration tool on the Harmoni platform that brought together 13 different data sources to align consumer understanding with real business outcomes. This approach transformed the company’s marketing planning, empowering marketers to identify and interpret data patterns proactively, informed strategic decision-making, and allowed forward-thinking consumer-centric actions.

Shell provides just one example in which bringing a wide variety of data together properly can fulfill company goals and actually exceed business needs. Whether it is merging data from multiple outside sources or simply combining internal projects for comparison and a birds-eye view of the business, there are many reasons why data harmonization remains top of mind for market research.

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